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Monday, July 30, 2012

Boehner Pushes for Conference Panel on Domestic Violence Measure


After a months-long stalemate over a bill to protect women from crimes of domestic violence, Speaker John A. Boehner on Monday named eight House negotiators to serve on a nonexistent conference committee, one that would be charged with bridging the divide between House Republicans and the Senate.

In April, the Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and it urged the House to move on the legislation.

The House subsequently passed its own measure, which omitted provisions of the Senate bill that would allow Indian tribal courts to try certain non-Indians in some cases of domestic violence on reservations, expand the number of temporary visas for illegal immigrants who were victims of domestic violence and extend the protections of that act to gay men and lesbians.

The House has since declined to take up the Senate bill, noting that it raises money to pay for some of the provisions not in cluded in the House measure. (Under the Constitution, bills that raise revenue must originate in the House.)

Senate Democrats have accused House Republicans of endangering women by refusing to take up the Senate measure.

A formal conference committee cannot be convened until the House and the Senate vote to convene it. Mr. Boehner is essentially jumping the gun by naming members to the hypothetical conference to pressure the Senate to move forward.

In a statement Mr. Boehner said: “Completing work on legislation to renew and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act is critical in our efforts to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. The law has broad, bipartisan support in both chambers, and I'm announcing our negotiators today in the hopes that we can begin to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. The House is ready and willing to begin those discussions, and I would urge Senate Democrats to come to the table so this critical legislation can be sent to the president for his signature as soon as possible.”

These are the House members assigned to the committee, all of them Republicans: Sandy Adams of Florida; Mary Bono Mack of California; Trey Gowdy of South Carolina; Nan Hayworth of New York; Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington; Shelley Moore Capito of West Virgina; F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin; and Lamar Smith of Texas, who is head of the House Judiciary Committee.